Social networks and economic life in rural Zambia

Leavy, Jennifer (2012) Social networks and economic life in rural Zambia. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the relationship between social networks and economic life in rural Zambia. The motivation for the study lies in the crucial role played by social context and social networks in exchange behaviour in rural sub-Saharan Africa, and inherent difficulties in formalising market transactions in this context within a standard neoclassical economics framework.

The study examines the role of social networks in rural production systems, focusing on crop market participation. It is based on analysis of findings from social network research conducted by the author in three predominantly Bemba villages in Northern Province, Zambia. Data collected using quantitative and qualitative methods are used to map social networks of individuals and households. Variables are constructed capturing network characteristics, and incorporated into transactions cost models of ommercialisation.

The overarching question is: do social networks play a role in determining farming success in settings with little variability between households on assets and endowments – land, labour, inputs – and where markets are incomplete or missing? Do social networks mediate market and resource access, helping to explain socio-economic differences between households?

The research finds rural life is characterised by diverse networks with multiple, overlapping functions. Much economic exchange takes place on reciprocal or kinship bases, rooted in social norms and reflecting community structures. How social networks are measured matters. Different network attributes are important for different people, and relationships between networks and outcomes depend on the measure used. Controlling for endogeneity, estimation results suggest larger networks have a negative effect on crop incomes whereas having a greater proportion of kin in the network has a positive effect, implying that in this context strong ties are key. Qualitative research suggests the nature of people’s networks and their positions within them play an important role in the command over labour: “the famous always get their work done"

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > Economics
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT History of Africa > DT3042 Zambia. Northern Rhodesia
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races > HT0401 Rural groups. Rural sociology
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2012 11:47
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2015 14:52
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/40669

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